Is your cat feeling picky or sickly?
Cats are well-known for being picky eaters, occasionally causing their owners to find themselves scratching their heads and scanning pet food shelves for new, interesting flavors for their fussy feline companion.
If, however, your cat refuses to eat for more than 24 hours, an underlying health issue may be the problem. Below, we discuss some potential causes of refusal to eat in cats.
Gastrointestinal (GI) Issues
Gastrointestinal issues or 'tummy trouble' can cause cats to feel nauseated and consequently, experience a decrease in their appetite. Cats suffering from GI issues will often (but not always) display other symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, constipation, and weight loss.
Common GI issues in cats include:
- Urinary obstruction
- Changes in intestinal bacteria
- A foreign object in their digestive tract (e.g. ingesting a leaf from a houseplant, or string)
If you notice that your cat is experiencing weight loss, diarrhea, constipation, or vomiting in addition to losing their appetite, it's time to head to the vet right away.
GI problems in cats, including the ones listed above, are serious and may warrant emergency care. Taking your cat to your vet to be examined, diagnosed, and treated for GI issues is important for your cat’s health and should be done as early as possible.
It's not hard to imagine why severe mouth pain can be an issue for cats suffering from oral health issues and could be the cause of your feline friend's refusal to eat. An injury to your cat's mouth caused by a foreign object, dental abscess, inflamed gums, advanced tooth decay, or loose or broken teeth can all cause significant pain.
If you think your cat is suffering from oral pain, take them in to see your vet as soon as possible for diagnosis and treatment. Your vet can perform a thorough examination and dental cleaning of your cat’s teeth and diagnose any issues that may be causing pain.
In older cats, kidney disease is a common reason for nauseation, which could lead to your cat's refusal to eat. Other symptoms of kidney disease include drinking excessive amounts of water and urinating frequently.
Only your vet will be able to diagnose and treat this serious disease, and if your cat is 7 years or older and has stopped eating or is exhibiting other symptoms of kidney disease, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.
Other Possible Causes
Cats may refuse to eat for a number of reasons not directly related to their overall physical health, including:
- New food
- Change in routine
- Recent vaccinations
- Motion sickness (e.g. car or plane ride)
Issues such as these should only cause your cat to skip two meals at most - no more. If your cat refuses to eat for longer than a day, it’s time for a visit to the vet.
When To See a Vet
If your feline friend has skipped more than one or two meals or is exhibiting any behaviors or symptoms you’re concerned about, contact your vet right away, or visit your nearest emergency vet clinic. Call ahead if possible.
Cats tend to hide when they don't feel well and because of this can quickly become seriously ill, making early diagnosis and treatment critical to your feline friend’s long-term health.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.